“Oh god, I don’t really use emojis like ever, like I don’t have them on my phone—I deleted them…” VÉRITÉ tells me over the phone, “but the other day on Snapchat I did the little dead person with the Xs over the eyes. I feel like that…the dead tired emoji. I like that one.” A quick pause before she adds, “That’s depressing… I’m sorry!” and erupts into laughter. There’s no wonder she’s so exhausted—it’s not easy running your uber-successful indie music project yourself. But she’s is keeping indie alive in 2016, and she’s doing it flawlessly. With three EPs, endless singles, and most recently, a delectable cover of The 1975’s “Somebody Else,” VÉRITÉ is independent and in demand.
Following VÉRITÉ ever since her very first single, “Strange Enough,” was released in July 2014, it’s been nothing short of incredible to watch her music grow over the past two years. Back then, VÉRITÉ was in its infancy, being built after Kelsey Byrne’s daily 12 hour waitress shifts at Applebee’s ended. After “Strange Enough” hit the blogs of Hype Machine, VÉRITÉ has been on a seemingly endless rise. The first EP, Echo, came later in 2014 to absolute acclaim from blogs and publications alike. The first tour to support Echo was rapidly approaching, and Kelsey had to decide whether to stick with the day job, or to abandon it and devote her time to the then side-project of VÉRITÉ. She tells me, “I quit right before the first tour, which is horrifying. It was at the point where the project was taking up so much of my time, and I could no longer balance both; it was just a little bit too intense. There’s just not enough hours in a day, so it was kind of a leap of faith, like ‘Alright, we’re gonna do this’ regardless of fear, or regardless of anything.” So she put in her two weeks before the first tour, and dove headfirst into the world of VÉRITÉ without looking back.
Now, two years later, she’s booking her own headlining tours, creating enough music for multiple releases, and working on VÉRITÉ full time. Looking back on the summer of 2014, VÉRITÉ is in disbelief about her previous life: “It’s not really recognizable, honestly, in the best sort of way. I think that when I look at the person I was, to the person I’ve grown to become, it’s just been a transformative process. Even the practical aspects of life that have shifted, from waiting tables, from working, that sort of mind-numbing day-to-day, to now where all of my focus is on this—it’s a different kind of way to look at life.”
She tries describing how often she’s working on music, but it’s hard to fully express because it’s pretty much all 24 hours of her day. She flat out tells me that she has more than enough music for a full-length record, and briefly hints that an LP might be the next release, heightening the suspense, but also showing how calculated it is with VÉRITÉ. From spreadsheets defining how many miles it is in between tour stops, or deciding which songs make it to the record, she’s the woman behind the scenes, as well as at center stage. She reflects, “I feel like I’m always ahead of myself to where I always have 5-10 songs just sitting around, and it’s just about being strategic, finding out where they fit and how I want them to be released. What batch and in what form; is it an EP or an LP or a single? So I’m not sure what the next release will necessarily look like; I just know that I’m writing for it and in the end it will all come together somehow.” The intentionality is audible on her latest EP, Living. After deciding to work with five different producers on each of the five tracks, I couldn’t figure out how they all sound so cohesive. She agreed, “It was definitely a challenge, not because the people I worked with weren’t good collaborators; they were amazing to work with. I think for me it was about figuring out a way to gain enough confidence to direct them to do things that I needed them to do, to have the end result be one cohesive voice. I think that was the biggest challenge of it, but once it kind of came to life, like 5 different producers for 5 songs, it wound up working out really well and much more smoothly than you’d imagine.”
The five songs on Living are the most representative of VÉRITÉ’s vastness. Slithering between dark pop and transparent indie, they collectively show the clearest and most concise version of her artistry. Straying away from her earlier versions of pop, they have less of a traditional form, and pack much more of a punch. She says of the EP, “‘Rest’ is super hard-hitting and just kind of crazy melodically. I just wanted it to be a very intense, dynamic moment. And then “Living” is one of my favorite songs that I’ve written, but it’s just really in your face. There’s nothing to be imagined in it. They’re definitely two of my favorites.” For me, the prize of the set is easily “Gesture.” It’s rough around the edges, but still holds onto the pristine production that is found across all of VÉRITÉ’s discography as she details a relationship gone awry. It’s representative of everything I adore about VÉRITÉ, even down to her not being afraid to blatantly drop the F-bomb in the middle of the hook.
We ventured back to the thought of a full-length record in our conversation, as all of her fans seem to want one. She got a little cheeky in response to me asking if she’d ever sign with a label. She answered, “I feel like at some point there’s going to be some sort of situation that will make sense, and if and when that comes to light, it will make sense strategically, business-wise, to do so. But I have to say, I’ve been spoiled being able to control every aspect of my career, and do exactly what I want and when I want, so that will be a hard thing to give up. But finding people that are on the same page is inevitable, so I’m kind of down for whatever feels right at any given moment.” In short, she’s in no hurry to snuggle up to a deal. In fact, she still holds a lot of her values from when she just started close. She says of being indie in 2016, “I think for me, the idea that I needed to be dependent on somebody to fund my project never really crossed my mind. I still have that mentality now; it’s not about relying on funding from a label or relying on funding from investors. I think in the early stages, if you make your own money through whatever means that you do, you can just have more time and more control in the future and be able to associate a more suiting deal. I think that that’s coming back slowly, the idea of saving yourself. But yeah, I think indie artists are way more capable than they give themselves credit for.”
VÉRITÉ has been touring all year since the Living EP dropped, and she’s circling the U.S. once more to open for Marian Hill. She’s playing the Showbox here in Seattle this Wednesday, September 28th, so be sure to check her out. And after she leaves, hopefully we’ll have whatever the next release may be in the next year or so. For now, we can just watch the reigning queen of indie in her prime.
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